If you suddenly find crusty scabs on your dog’s back, try not to panic. Although it may seem alarming, this is not usually a fatal or very serious concern. Nevertheless, this condition may be uncomfortable for your dog.
These nasty scabs can cause your dog to scratch or lick the affected area on your dog’s skin excessively. Thus, it needs immediate treatment before it gets worse.
This guide aims to give dog owners an upper hand by discussing everything there is to know about crusty scabs found on a dog’s back, what causes it, and the common ways to treat this condition.
What Causes Crusty Scabs on a Dog’s Back?
There are a lot of different conditions that may lead to crusty scabs on dogs. To determine the proper treatment, a better understanding of the underlying causes of this occurrence on your dog’s skin is needed.
Here is a list of the external and internal causes of crusty scabs on a dog’s skin:
Allergies may not be as common in dogs as in humans, but they are still quite prevalent. In fact, about 10% of dogs are prone to developing allergies.
Allergic dermatitis is one of the most common causes of crusty scabs and skin problems on a dog’s skin. These allergies may even come in different forms.
Environmental allergies are its most prevalent form and may cause atopic dermatitis or skin irritation in dogs.
These types of allergic reactions may be triggered by virtually anything around the dog’s environment, such as soaps, medicated shampoos, detergents, gardening chemicals, plastic wares, and even insect bites.
Further, any product that may be used on a dog’s coat that causes skin irritation or any untoward skin reaction is also considered an external allergen that may eventually lead to crusty scabs.
Another form of allergy that may cause irritated skin in your dog’s body is food allergies. Some foods like chicken or grains may lead to skin issues in your pet, depending on their sensitivities.
If your dog just ate something and you noticed them constantly scratching due to itchy skin, you need to watch the components of your dog’s diet as it might possibly be related to food allergies.
Pollen is another common allergen affecting dogs as it comes in direct contact with the dogs’ skin. Hence, most dogs with short fur are more prone to skin problems due to pollen allergy.
External parasites such as ticks, fleas, and mites are also primary suspects that cause skin irritation leading to crusty scabs on dogs’ bodies.
Ticks feed off your dog’s blood, which can cause a crusty scab on the part of the dog’s skin where it latches.
Luckily, ticks are clearly visible to the naked eye and can be easily and gently removed using tweezers.
On the other hand, fleas are more difficult to notice since they are very tiny insects. They may already be in your dog’s bedding, rug or carpet, or yard, and you might not have any idea.
The presence of flea infestation may be observed, though, through the appearance of small, dark, round structures on your dog’s skin, which are flea feces.
Flea bites will cause itchy skin on dogs which they tend to lick and scratch. These areas affected by flea bites turn into dry skin and may become crusty scabs afterward.
Lastly, mites are another reason why dogs may develop scabs on their backs. There are two types of mites — Demodex and scabies mites. Skin scraping is usually done to identify which mites are on your dog’s skin.
Demodex mites cause demodectic mange and may affect only our dogs, while scabies mites cause sarcoptic mange, which can be passed on even to the dog owners.
Fungal infections, most especially ringworms, can result in hair loss, scaly skin, severe itching, flaky skin, dog scabs, and red and irritated skin. This may occur anywhere in a dog’s body, including the mouth.
As with any type of bacterial or fungal infection, this is highly contagious. Further, puppies are more prone to these types of skin infections since they have weaker immune systems compared to older dogs.
The skin condition known as superficial bacterial folliculitis is a bacterial infection causing skin irritation, hair loss, and bumps on a dog’s skin. Another skin disorder caused by bacteria is impetigo, occurring in the belly.
Hot spots, otherwise known as acute moist dermatitis or pyotraumatic dermatitis, are another type of bacterial skin infection where excessive scratching has already formed skin lesions and may contain pus.
These types of bacterial infections usually co-exist with other skin conditions, such as another skin infection, mange, fleas, allergy, or skin lesion.
The bacterial infection starts when a dog constantly chews and licks on the affected area of the dog’s skin until skin lesions occur. Bacteria may enter these open wounds, leading to a secondary infection.
Yeast infections are one of the most common types of skin infections in dogs. Further, it is also one of the easiest to detect.
Alongside crusty scabs, the affected area would have discolored skin and would appear to be darker than the surrounding skin.
A yeast infection usually occurs in areas of the dog’s body that are usually warm and moist, where yeast can build up. They tend to lick and scratch this area, which may lead to your dog’s scab.
Hormonal imbalance usually results in hair loss, which otherwise leads to redness, skin irritation, and eventually, crusty scabs.
A dog’s immune system is its first line of defense against any bacterial or fungal infection that may cause skin issues in dogs. If a dog has crusty scabs, an auto-immune disorder could be a possible culprit.
This is because when a dog’s immune system is compromised, it becomes harder for them to fight off skin diseases or skin irritants that may cause these crusty scabs on the dog’s skin.
A dog’s body weight must be maintained within its ideal range to avoid any diseases that may be caused by nutritional deficiency.
Hence, your dog’s food needs to have the right components to be considered a balanced diet and maintain your dog’s healthy skin and prevent scabs.
Further, a dog needs to have enough moisture in its daily intake for proper hydration. A dehydrated dog would have dry skin that may lead to your dog licking and scratching, forming crusty scabs in the process.
Types of Scabs on Dogs
The types of crusty scabs on a dog’s skin may vary depending on factors such as their cause, indications, and severity.
If your dog has crusty scabs, check what type it is from the list below:
- Crusty Scabs: Crusty scabs are broad areas of scabbiness as compared to individual wounds. As indicated in the previous section, this may be due to an underlying skin condition caused by allergies, parasites, infections, hormonal imbalance, immune disorders, or nutritional deficiency.
- Black Scabs: These types of harmless scabs are formed through hyperpigmentation of the affected parts of your dog’s skin that may be caused by its prolonged inflammation.
- Raised Scabs: These types of scabs are characterized by scabs that are raised considerably compared to their surrounding area. This is an indication of an infected or inflamed skin mass.
- Yellow Scabs: Seborrhea is the leading cause of yellow scabs on a dog’s back, which are often observed as yellow, flaky scabs.
- Red Scabs: Commonly caused by skin lesions, red scabs indicate the presence of active bleeding in the affected area. These red scabs turn to a darker shade after some time.
- Itchy Scabs: Scabs are generally itchy; therefore, these types of scabs are very common. In fact, some of these scabs are formed through excessive scratching and licking. The majority of these itchy scabs are caused by allergies, parasites, and infections.
If you see any of these scabs on your pet that may affect dog health in general, it is best to consult your veterinarian to ensure that they are not indications of more serious conditions, like skin cancer or skin tumors.
How to Treat Crusty Scabs on a Dog’s Back?
Knowing the reasons why crusty scabs appear on our beloved dogs, it is now easier to tailor-fit the proper treatment for the underlying skin conditions that cause these scabs to develop.
As you read through the ways how to treat crusty scabs on a dog’s back below, keep in mind that the effectiveness of these treatments would also be based on the cause of your dog’s scabs.
Use Anti-parasitic Dog Shampoos, Ointments, and Medications
There are a lot of existing anti-bacterial and anti-fungal shampoos and ointments available on the market. Many of these are over-the-counter, while some of the stronger ones require a prescription.
Further, for more severe cases, medication may already be required. Some medications may be in the form of sprays, drops, injectables, or oral intake.
However, regardless of the severity of your dog’s condition, it is always best to consult your veterinarian on what products to use to remove these nasty scabs and get back to having your dog’s coat healthy again.
Coconut oil, especially virgin coconut oil, is a very effective, safe, and organic substance that can help with a lot of possible skin issues in your dogs, such as infections, dry and flaky skin, and redness and irritation.
It may be taken orally or may be rubbed directly on your dog’s skin. It is also good for your dog’s hair follicles and can even help with more severe skin conditions like mange.
Given that allergies are one of the most common causes of crusty scabs on dog breeds, giving them anti-allergy drugs such as antihistamines is an effective way to relieve them from itching and scratching.
Oatmeal has strong anti-inflammatory properties that provide a lot of relief to different skin conditions for dogs. You can prepare the oatmeal manually and rub it on the dog’s skin directly.
There are also commercially available oatmeal shampoos that are effective in reducing inflammation, redness, and swelling on your dog’s skin. Oatmeal is also very soothing for dogs, so it will be easy for you to apply.
Chamomile is not just a safe herb for dogs but also has potent anti-inflammatory properties that are good for relieving skin conditions leading to crusty scabs.
It can be prepared as a mixture of water and chamomile and sprayed directly on the affected part of the dog’s body.
A daily supplement of fish oil capsules for your dog is beneficial for their skin and coat. Fish oil contains essential fatty acids that can relieve your dog of itching and other skin discomforts your dog may have.
Once the scratching stops, many conditions leading to crusty scabs may be avoided, such as hot spots and other bacterial infections.
There are a lot of possible treatments available to treat skin conditions in dogs. However, always consult your vet when trying out a new product, especially over-the-counter medicines, to ensure your dog’s safety.
How to Prevent Crusty Scabs on a Dog’s Back
As the saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Hence, it is best to determine how to prevent crusty scabs from developing before they become a more painful problem for you and your dog in the future.
Here are some effective ways to prevent crusty scabs from occurring on your dog’s back:
- Diet: A healthy, well-balanced, and hypoallergenic diet for your dog should help minimize the occurrence of allergies and undernutrition that may lead to the development of dog scabs. Further, ensuring that your dog’s treats do not cause food allergies is also a must.
- Keep the dog’s environment clean: A clean surrounding for your dog decreases the risk of them being subjected to environmental allergies and fungal and bacterial infections. Make sure that their dog beds and play area are also kept in pristine condition.
- Regular grooming: The right frequency of bathing and brushing is necessary to keep your dog’s skin and coat clean and healthy by freeing it from dirt and other foreign matter. Further, it stimulates the production of the dog’s natural skin oils that give protection against bacteria and fungi.
- Use safe and quality grooming products: When buying grooming products, do not just consider the cost but also the safety of your pet. Always ensure that your grooming items are free from any chemicals or substances that would cause skin problems on your dog.
- Pick up dog poop immediately: Clean up after your dog immediately to prevent it from stepping on or its skin and coat from being in contact with its feces, which may lead to skin issues.
- Tick and flea prevention: Common tick and flea collars, as well as topical treatments, should help prevent ticks and fleas from latching onto your dog’s skin, preventing the source of scabs.
As part of overall dog care, it is critical that these practices become a regular habit to prevent the greater headache of having to treat crusty scabs in your dogs.
In the meantime, here is a video to give you more information about crusty scabs on dogs, their causes, and how to treat them accordingly:
When to See Your Vet
Normally, you should always see your veterinarian regardless of the severity of the dog scabs you notice on your dog’s back. However, certain conditions may require you to visit the vet with greater urgency.
In situations like these, securing pet insurance should also ease the burden on you from having to spend a huge amount on medical emergencies and treatment.
Frequently Asked Questions
How Long Does It Take for a Dog Scab to Heal?
On average, a dog scab will heal between 3 and 14 days. However, this may depend on its size, severity, and what caused the scab. Infected scabs may also take longer to heal.
Applying the treatment suggestions in this article should also help speed up the healing process.
How Do You Tell If It’s a Tick or Scab on Dog?
If you are unsure whether it is a tick or a scab that is on your dog’s skin, observe more closely. A tick may appear initially as a small, dark brown spot, but as it feeds on your dog’s blood, it becomes fuller and sticks out more.
On the other hand, scabs would be flat and are fixed on your dog’s skin, except if they are about to fall off.
Do Tick Bites Leave Scabs on Dogs?
Once a tick is done feeding, it will potentially leave a scab on the part of your dog’s skin that was bitten. The tick bite also tends to be itchy and may be scratched or licked by your dog, leaving a scab behind.
Further, if you forcefully remove a tick from the skin of your dog, it could also lead to scabbing.
Why Does My Dog Keep Getting Scabs on His Back?
If your dog keeps getting scabs on its back, it means that the underlying cause that led to the development of the scabs hasn’t been treated completely yet, or your dog keeps scratching, chewing, or licking the area.
In this case, to prevent them from touching the area, making them wear a dog cone may help. Also, approaching your vet to diagnose the cause of your dog’s scabs and come up with the right treatment is recommended.
Why Does My Dog Have Little Scabs All Over Him?
If scabbing on your dog is widespread, this is often an indication of allergies or skin infections, which can be very itchy.
With the help of your veterinarian, over-the-counter and prescription medications may be given to speed up the healing process and provide immediate relief to your dog.
Can I Put Vaseline on My Dog’s Scabs?
Vaseline is safe to apply to a dog’s scabs, but it wouldn’t have too much impact. In fact, it could even overdry the scab. Instead, use balms and ointments that are specifically designed for dogs.
Make sure to always consult with your vet before applying anything to your dog’s skin.
Can I Put Neosporin on My Dog’s Scabs?
Neosporin is not recommended to be used on dogs since it is formulated for humans. It is always best to consult first with your vet so that they can advise on the best topical treatment you can apply to your dog’s skin.
Crusty scabs are definitely not the most pleasant things to see on your dog’s back, and these are proven to be very uncomfortable for your dog.
To get rid of this, it is always best to determine the underlying cause, work with your vet to come up with the appropriate treatment, and always apply ways how to prevent this from occurring in your household.
We hope that this guide has helped you figure out the best approach to dealing with crusty scabs on your dog’s back. Let us know if you have any experience treating this skin condition by leaving us a comment!
My name is John Carter and I absolutely love pets, especially cats and dogs. I’ve got a Bachelor of Science degree in Animal Behaviour and Welfare and have several years’ experience working in animal shelters and rescues. My passion for animals started at a very young age as I grow up on a farm with several horses, cows, cats, chickens, and dogs on our property.